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Big Fish or Little Fish – It’s Still About Getting Your Customer to Act

The topic for this weeks blog is all about ADVERTISING and since my book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE is a guide on how to become wealthy by starting your own business it is extremely important to learn how to market your new business effectively and the best way to do that is to ADVERTISE.

Allow me to introduce you to John Boggs. He is first and foremost a sales guy. This is the rock upon which his distinguished career was built and why his advice contained within his new book ADvice By John Boggs: Common Sense Stories of Local Advertising and Sales is well worth heeding. No advertising glitz here, just battle tested and market-proven sales and advertising wisdom for those wanting to improve their sales batting average. John’s zest for life and passion for sales/advertising will put a tear in your eye and a spring in your step.

He starts his book with a quote from Stephen Grellet

“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to my fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

The following are excerpts from his first chapter

“As I was growing up, I had grandiose plans for my life and career. I wanted to be a scientist, an astronaut and a doctor. I envisioned myself as being world famous. My grandfather was a wise man and enjoyed asking me what I was going to be when I grew up. More often than not, I would begin with the phrase ‘the top, the number one, or world famous.’

Each time I shared my dream of which I would become, my perceptive grandfather would say ‘It is better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond’. He would explain to me that if I was important in a small domain, I would have more opportunity for achievement as well as create the possibility to move to bigger domains. Still, he didn’t stifle my dreams.

As I grew and experienced the world, his words became more of a guide for me than I would have ever expected. I found myself attracted more to smaller companies where I assumed leadership roles and quickly made a difference. I was attracted to becoming a big fish in a small pond. As my achievements grew, bigger ponds (companies and opportunities) presented themselves. And so the cycle repeated.

What does this have to do with advertising? Everything! All advertisers, especially those smaller than Coca Cola and General Motors, should heed my grandfathers. It is much better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond.

How do you do this? Focus your advertising to a limited number of media options. Dominate the media options you choose and only expand to additional options after you become (and can maintain) being a big fish in that pond. How do you dominate? You grow and increase your ad size and even the number of ads per issue. Once you are the largest advertiser in your category, you dominate that medium.

Even the smallest circulation magazine has more readers than the average advertiser can accommodate. How many businesses could handle an influx of 30,000 or even just 10,000 new orders? Not many. It would truly be a case of too much of a good thing. Yet most advertisers focus on reaching as many people as possible with their sales message Very few advertisers write excellent sales copy, so only a few of the millions reached actually respond. How distressing would it be if every reader in every magazine or every viewer of every television program decided they wanted to take advantage of your offer? No business could hire staff fast enough to fulfill orders promptly and still maintain good customer service.

Fortunately for all of us, advertising does not work that way. Consumers (including you) go through a very rigid decision process before making a purchase. AIDA, no I’m not going to slip in a reference to an opera at this point. AIDA is an acronym for this process. Awareness/ Interest/ Desire/ and Action are the steps each consumer needs to go through before buying any product.

Many of today’s advertising salespeople are not schooled in how advertising works. Most do not know what it takes to be successful. Those who do often do have the courage to tell an advertiser the price of success. That price involves steering the potential customer through AIDA: making them Aware of your product, cultivating their Interest, creating an intense Desire to own the product, and giving them a strong incentive to Act. As you can imagine, a ¼ page ad run twice will not in most cases take the consumer as far as you need them to go.

A competent advertising salesperson can tell you the truth about how much you should spend and what your expectations should be.

Unfortunately, far too many will tell you what you want to hear, that you can get something for nothing.

There is so much more to effective advertising than the number of people you reach. Advertising is more of an art than a science. But if you apply basic scientific principles toward your advertising plan, as well as use common sense, much of the mystery dissolves.

John Boggs concludes the first chapter of his most useful book by quoting his grand father’s wisdom, once again. “It is better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than to be a small fish in a big pond”.

In my book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE I show you how the AIDA principle can help you succeed in the mail order business and by the way it also contradicts a lot of what John says about advertising but only because John Boggs was talking about advertising to reach consumers to make a purchase at retail. There are different rules for direct response (mail order) advertising that make it very easy to grow a business quickly and with much less up front advertising expenditures, where every dollar you spend on advertising will allow you to make at least two dollars back, and even more.

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